Not far from me sat a ten acre vacant field just two months ago. Then, a sign was posted, reading "Future Home of Franklin Preparartory". And, in the next few weeks, the foundation went up, then the industrial steel walls of pre-fab. And, each time I drove by, the building inspectors, and electrical contractors, and landscaping crews swarmed over the site. And, just last week the sidewalks went in, and a huge temporary canvas canopy went up out back....to shade the children at play. Beyond them stood acres of green, and playground equipment, baseball fields already laid out. Open for business in eight weeks!
This is a story that is playing out all over Arizona, as spanking new private schools spring up like daisies. Schools affiliated with religious institutions are thriving. Neighborhoods are growing their own schools. Why? Because Arizona is leading the nation in a campaign to build institutions that will finally educate our children. And we are not just "talking". We are putting our money where our mouths are.....thanks to state laws that now give tax credits for every donation made to private or charter schools. And we are donating on our tax returns by the hundreds of millions.
And the teachers unions don't like it. They claim our tax credits are money that should rightly go to the public school system....and any dollars given to charter schools are dollars "taken" from the public school. The problem with that is that it's not true. The Arizona public school system now consumes about half of our annual state budget. And the public schools only get worse, even as that ultra liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco has mandated we chip in billions more for a failing system.
You might be heartened to know that we Arizonans ourselves overwhelming voted in favor of funding these private and charter schools...that the poorest kid can afford to attend through a voucher. However, just this past month, the teacher's unions, both state and federal, have procured funding from the Democrats, and George Soros's of the world, to collect 75,000 signatures to put still another initiative on the ballot to stop allowing these school tax credits. They claim the public schools are suffering from decreased attendance, that teachers are being forced into layoffs, that our charter and private schools favor the wealthy and punish the poor....except the poor are enjoying the fruits of these private school tax credits by a ratio of 8 to 1! Alas, these signature collectors are asking the courts to stop private school vouchers until the 2018 election initiative can again be voted on.
What we really have here folks, is an underlying resentment that illegal Mexicans might not be able to attend these tax supported private schools...that at some point in the very generous scholarship process, someone here illegally may not be able to clear the hurdle of legitimacy. And, of course we have also seen several public schools closed from lack of student attendance, the more successful school districts now enjoying higher attendance numbers.
Just this morning our Gannett owned liberal Arizona Republic issued a report on the matter. While deathly afraid to point out the success of our private and charter schools, they did show a slight bit of sympathy for those teachers unions who are trying harder to stop success than they do to actually get in there and compete...and actually educate our kids.
Every pundit around says the teachers union efforts are bound to fail. Arizona spoke long ago...and gave our public schools an "F". Now it seems the teachers unions are asking for a "makeup test"...and being told "no".
Okay, so you're not in Arizona. But Arizona has been leading the way on private school vouchers, and private school tax credits for many years now. We are the "canary in the coal mine" for every state in America....and you should be paying attention. If you live in a state where reason still prevails, you ought to be sending "education ambassadors" to Arizona...to find out how its done.
Oh, by the way, we are getting more and more large corporations settling here in Arizona, many of them migrants from California. On the business surveys they are given, know why they said they decided to move here? 1) Tax friendliness 2) Lack of Regulatory burdens 3) A commitment to innovative solutions for K-12 education.
Like the Phoenix, our education system is rising from the ashes...and actually educating our children!